Callas on rubbish bins

A friend in Brazil brought my attention to articles from Il Corriere del Veneto and L’Arena: The municipality of Zevio, the ancestral home of Callas’s husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini, now displays images of Maria Callas and the slogan “Zevio, the city of Callas” on benches, flower pots, and rubbish bins.

Meneghini’s family and various personalities (including Franco Zeffirelli) have objected, but a local bureaucrat defends the undertaking: “Its purpose is to remind everyone that this great artist lived in Zevio.”

A bit from the Corriere article:
Why not leave the benches and flower pots and simply remove the singer’s image from the rubbish bins? According to the mayor, it cannot be done: “Urban fixtures must be uniform in appearance.”*

[Another official] came up with a new proposal: “Music lovers and philanthropists, if they so desire, can donate a fixture to the city. A plaque will record their name alongside Callas’s countenance.” In effect, a “crumb” of immortality for those who contribute to re-equipping the streets with a bench or a flower pot. The question remains, though: Who would want to give their name to a rubbish bin?

*Translator’s note: Remember what Dr. McCoy said in Star Trek IV? “The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe.”
The issue, predictably, is further tangled up with electoral politics and perennial buffoneria. The mayor: “We were voted into office, in part, because our platform called for promoting the city in the name of Callas. I am even willing to print the singer’s image on signs welcoming drivers to Zevio to publicize the fact that the only house still standing in which Maria and Battista lived is here in Zevio.”

In the meantime, Giancarlo Tanzi, a collector of Callas memorabilia who lives in Munich, complains that Zevio has failed to make good on its promise to open a Callas museum to display the material he donated. “The city told me that the museum would open in June or September, without however specifying the year.” According to Tanzi, part of his collection (“photos and precious films”) was destroyed while stored in a garage.

The mayor’s reply: “We’ll open the museum in June or September. Well, as soon as the engineer submits the plans. In fact, if the plans don’t arrive in time, we’ll set up the museum on a provisional basis, just to get it open at last.”

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